Best way to cream butter for cookies?
I found the following article in the December issue of the Cooking Light magazine and it goes against everything I've done over the years with cookies - particularly the amount of time that butter should be creamed with the sugar:
"Baking holiday cookies can go from a labor of love to an exercise in frustration when your gingerbread men come out more bloated than a Macy's parade float. The problem is too much heatÃ¯Â¿Â½but not at the baking stage, at the mixing stage: Your butter is too warm.
The solution: Keep your butter cool, right until baking. Butter starts to melt at 68Ã¯Â¿Â½, and once that happens, its water-fat emulsion breaks and there's no getting it back. Cold, emulsified butter helps give baked goods structure by taking in air when mixed with sugar. For cookies, you want butter well below room temperature; between 50Ã¯Â¿Â½ and 65Ã¯Â¿Â½ is optimal. Cut the butter into chunks, and let it stand at room temperature to soften (nix the microwave idea entirely).
If the butter is still cold to the touch but spreadable, you can start creaming. Butter and sugar need only be mixed (or "creamed") for about 30 secondsÃ¯Â¿Â½much longer and the butter warms up. Chill the dough for 20 to 30 minutes before you bake."
I usually make sure that the butter is creamed very well with the sugar because I want the sugar to dissolve. To cream sugar with butter for no more than 30 seconds goes against everything I have learned about making cookies!